US (IA): School greenhouse could be operational by fall

Atlantic FFA Advisor Eric Miller says he hopes a “test crop” can be planted in the new greenhouse currently under construction at the high school during the Atlantic Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Miller said he plans to move the 300-gallon fish tank in the current greenhouse this summer, run a test crop by next fall, and have a plant sale next spring.” He said the plan is to create an aquaponics system and utilize the water in the fish tank to water and provide nutrients. They currently have about 20 tilapia in the tank, each about 10 to 12 inches long, and Miller hopes to expand that number in the future. Eventually, the fish will be cleaned and eaten.

“I hope the students learn a new appreciation for where their food comes from,” Miller said. “Also a different perspective on agriculture. They understand traditional Iowa agriculture pretty well, but if I have helped show them new ideas for alternative agriculture, they might come up with new business to help support our community in the future.”

Last September, the school board approved a new 30 X 48-foot greenhouse after the School Foundation agreed to fund up to $100,000 for it. The foundation is a non-profit organization established to raise funds to foster, promote and encourage the furthering of public education programs for which federal and state funding is not available.

“What I enjoy about it is applying those skills that they’ve learned in other classes, and showing them they are going to use after high school at some point, and getting other teachers involved, like the math teacher that helped us,” Dobson said. Rotary members were holding their Salute to Ag meeting, wanting to recognize students and teachers involved in ag-related classes and programs.

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